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Stowe Story Labs is a non-profit effort to bring screenwriters, filmmakers and creative producers together with seasoned, working industry professionals to get work made and seen.
I came up with the idea for the Labs after spending tremendous amounts of time, money and energy traveling the major festivals and markets and participating in programs to learn how best to advance my own work and vision of building a life making films. I met David Pope at Cannes, where I had my first short at the Cannes Short Film Corner. Not to reduce the value of Cannes, but the biggest value for me to having a film at Cannes was free coffee at the Short Film Corner and to be around other aspirational filmmakers. And free workshops, so I sat in on one offered by David Pope.
David’s workshop was on pitching. I must admit I joined mostly because it was free and just next to the coffee bar, but I am so glad I went. It was brilliant. David has a respectful, thoughtful way about him. He listens carefully and meaningfully to each person, gives concrete advice, and helps make talent meaningful by teaching critical skills.
After the workshop David and I shared a cup of coffee and went our separate ways. By coincidence, the following January we met again.
I was in Rotterdam participated in the Rotterdam Film Festival’s CineMart, a wonderful small market where I spent days doing nothing but talking about film finance, packaging idiosyncratic films, thinking of ways to maybe build my projects and drinking not coffee but lots of Jamison’s (one of the festival sponsors). It was such a tremendous experience – meeting like-minded filmmakers, writers and producers; learning; having fun; getting ideas. David Pope was in Rotterdam facilitating CineMart’s prestigious Producers Lab, which he does each year. I pitched the idea of the Labs to David and he signed on immediately. We have been having fun ever since.
David loves the idea of taking his facilitation, mentoring, training and filmmaking skills to the Green Mountains of Vermont. I love the idea of people gathering and learning while visiting our little valley in the mountains. And maybe one or two of our participants will decide to stay, make a life or at least shoot a film or two. Stowe as anchor and all of Northern Vermont as campus.
It is hard to make films. I took this picture of my star, Park Crist, while shooting my first short, The Brothers. This is the four minute, fifty-two second film I ended up taking to Cannes and then the wonderful short film festival in Capalbio, Italy.
I had no idea what to do with when the film when I was done. But I learned. And it went to Cannes, where I met David, and where my little film about two boys on an adventure was invited to Capalbio, which I’d never heard of before, and the film did well there, and in Capalbio I met more great people who became friends, people to work with, commiserate with, collaborate with and make movies with.
Stowe Story Labs is designed to foster just that: community, collaboration, learning, perfecting, doing.
It is important in this business to talk about your work, learn as much as you can, meet people, collaborate on projects, enjoy the world of film.
Now in our fifth year, Stowe Story Labs has evolved nicely and continues to grow organically: The fall Labs, held in mid-September each year at Stowe's Helen Day Art Center, brings participants together from around the world to focus on story and skill development, pitching and packaging and building a network of peer and industry connections to help propel our work forward; mid-May each year we host a small writers' retreat for this group of participants, where the focus is each particular script.
Our partnerships are growing. Vermont's Champlain College and Middlebury College are attached to sponsor participants at the Fall Labs, as are Tangerine Films, NewEnglandFilm.com, and the PAGE International Screenwriting Awards, among others.
To donate to the non-profit Labs, or to discuss sponsorship opportunities, please click here.
I hope we are creating a space to help you make movies; to make the journey a bit less lonely, a bit more defined, maybe a step or two lighter, and through these efforts bend the world a bit through story.
Founder and President, Stowe Story Labs
The vision for Story Labs:
- Focus on your work
- Small group workshops with top industry mentors
- Help impart some skills to navigate the complex world of getting films made and seen
- Create an intensive but supportive environment
- Build a network of friends, colleagues and collaborators
- Maybe change the world of film a bit through discovery of new approaches to producing, financing, distributing quality works
- Grow over time into one of the key stops on the way to making great film
Thank you to all of our partners
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